Ghost Rider #5-6
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #5, Ghost Rider #6
That's right, despite what your lying eyes may have told you, Ghost Rider has never killed anyone. Sorry if you got that impression. In fact, the inclusion of the Punisher here may have been Howard Mackie's way of setting up a distinction between Ghost Rider and Punisher. But of course a team-up of these two violent and popular vigilantes would also have provided a nice sales boost.
The reporter talking on the television in the scan above is Linda Wei.
Despite incorrectly guessing that the Punisher and Ghost Rider might be the same person based on their skull motifs, she'll remain a regular member of the books' cast.
Punisher also thinks the idea that he and Ghost Rider are the same is "way off the mark". But he has heard of the Ghost Rider, thanks to the Ghost Rider's run-ins with the Kingpin's men.
That's a very big gun.
Danny Ketch continues to have problems in his personal life. His sister is still in the hospital, and he's considering using his Ghost Rider powers to make money for better doctors. But he immediately decides that he could never do that. While he's thinking about it, a neighborhood kid runs by, and because Danny is "cool", the kid tells him about a place where people are handing out free guns to kids. The kid, Eddie, wants a gun because of everything that's been going on in the neighborhood. Danny sends the eleven year old boy home, and then he goes to investigate the warehouse where the guns are being handed out. It's also the warehouse that the Punisher is staking out.
Danny initially shows up in an untransformed state, and doesn't turn into Ghost Rider when he gets in trouble.
Danny thinks that this means that he's done turning into Ghost Rider, which he has mixed feelings about. But then, after he drives away, his gas cap starts glowing and he's able to transform. The opening blurb for these issues say, "When innocent blood is spilled, a Spirit of Vengeance is born, and Danny Ketch finds himself transformed." That seems clear enough, and no blood had been spilled when Danny was trying to transform. But it's less clear why Danny is able to transform a little later. I suppose a death could have happened off panel.
Anyway, before any Team-Up you have to have your Misunderstanding Fight.
Their fight causes the roof that they're fighting on to collapse, and they wind up in front of the real villain, Flag-Smasher.
Flag-Smasher has been handing out guns to random thugs for the purpose of causing random chaos, hoping it will bring down the system. So don't tell me the guy isn't an anarchist.
Ok, this is really a case of a character's original theme going off track. That's at least in part because Mark Gruenwald was never able to define him as well as he probably intended, but it's also just a case of the character getting diluted. There's really little reason for Flag-Smasher to be a repeat villain for the Punisher. Flag-Smasher is an ideological challenge for Captain America's nationalism. Punisher kills criminals because criminals murdered his family. Even with Flag-Smasher devolving into straight-up terrorism, he's really a better villain for Solo than Punisher. I guess the idea is to find someone sufficiently super-villainish to merit a team-up with a super-hero (Moon Knight / Ghost Rider) but still grounded in violent crime for the Punisher.
Even Ghost Rider is a bit out of the Punisher's normal social circle. It's pretty funny seeing him get on the back of a motorcycle driven by a demonic flaming skeleton.
It's also funny seeing the Punisher playing second fiddle to someone else in an interrogation session.
They get the necessary information from the kid they were interrogating, and then we switch away to Danny Ketch going to his job as a bike messenger the next day. Which is a real rip off. I mean, i wanted to see Ghost Rider and the Punisher in those awkward moments after the interrogation, where someone had to be like, "So, uh, you're pretty extreme, and i'm pretty extreme. Let's be extreme together! How about we meet up tomorrow night and we'll go after the Flag-Smasher again. I mean, if you're cool with it, you know? No big deal either way."
Instead we get a PSA about motorcycle safety.
Somewhere, Johnny Blaze is laughing.
The next night, Flag-Smasher's group ULTIMATUM goes on an attack. You know, with groups like Hydra, i often wonder how they manage to keep recruiting all their cannon fodder goons. But not ULTIMATUM. The appeal is obvious: totally sweet rides. They've had the jet skis (literally, skis with jets) in the past, and in this they've got goddamn shark sleds.
Sign me up!
Or maybe not, because i don't want to run into these two guys.
It's not fair! Not even Ghost Rider's bike can be destroyed.
Flag-Smasher himself does get away, though.
It's in this second Team-Up that the no killing thing comes up.
"Oh, sorry, dude. I just assumed that a terrifying flaming skeleton in a motorcycle jacket covered in spikes and chains wouldn't be a total wimp."
But this doesn't end their friendship. Punisher needs a ride away from the police. And he has to admit that his new buddy is pretty cool. Only Ghost Rider can emote flaming ellipses.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showDoris Ketch, Flag-Smasher, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Linda Wei, Noble Kale, Punisher, Stacy Dolan
I've talked about why I like Flag-smasher and why he should ONLY oppose Cap america (or another patriotic hero in a pinch). But you know, he is such a wasted opportunity. Imagine if he were a more moral terrorist, maybe causing disention but with a code of honour. then he would prove a real physcological opposition for Cap with his platform not so easily dismissed due to his tactics.
Also fnord they are Ski-jets, not jet-skis:-)
Posted by: kveto | June 4, 2015 5:20 PM
To be fair about the "never killed" thing, the only person that Ghost Rider clearly killed in the first 3 issues was the ninja. And Mackie realizes his mistake and explains that eventually.
Posted by: Michael | June 4, 2015 7:57 PM
This Ghost Rider has the same problems for me as the Netflix Daredevil: he says he doesn't kill, but he has no problem with causing grievous bodily harm or torturing.
I mean, "I have no problem causing harm, but I wont execute someone in cold blood" is a fine characterization, but don't try to get me to care about a "If I kill I'll be just as bad as they are" plot. You're already crossing plenty of lines I wouldn't, so sobbing about that last one doesn't really connect with me.
Posted by: Berend | June 5, 2015 4:37 AM
I'm guessing there are multiple versions of Batman you don't like as well, then.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 5, 2015 6:18 AM
Well, arguably the difference is that Ghost Rider and Batman don't permanently injure people. I agree, though, it was a ridiculous distinction that Simonson tried to make with Illyana- "Sure, she's banished people to Limbo to be permanently tormented by the demons, but as long as she doesn't KILL ANYONE, she's still got plenty of humanity left."
Posted by: Michael | June 5, 2015 7:51 AM
I'm not a big Batman fan anyway :P
But it's more that the stories fall flat to me than that I have an actual problem with the characters. I can buy a character clinging on to the idea that they're still "innocent" as long as they don't kill. If I, the reader, am supposed to buy it though, then the stories usually start to fall apart.
Posted by: Berend | June 6, 2015 6:55 AM
A Ghost Rider and Punisher team-up? It feels like the cover should have said "Hope you like this, because this is going to be emblematic of the whole next decade."
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 31, 2015 8:08 AM
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